Golfer who collapsed thanks lifesavers who gave CPR

By Roger Weber, Local 4 Reporter, @RogerWLocal4, rogerw@wdiv.com
Published On: Jul 08 2013 06:20:04 PM EDT

Ten days after Rick Wilkens heart stopped and was started again on the golf course, he has a chance to say thank you to the men who saved him.

LYON TOWNSHIP, Mich. -

Ten days after Rick Wilkins' heart stopped and started again, he has a chance to say thank you. The 65-year-old retired Detroit police officer collapsed on the last hole of Tanglewood Golf Club.

Wilkins described the feeling that came over him.

"I remember standing over my putt. I was either going to mark it or putt it and I felt this huge wave, like a faint wave feeling like I was going to faint of something," Wilkins said.

Retired Livonia fire captains Clyde Rivard and Mike Rue Sterner were among the people who gave Wilkins CPR. They were in the same golf league.

"It's just kind of like our training and experience took over. We assessed for a pulse and didn't find one and started compressions," Rivard said.

Wilkins has more to say than thank you. He think people can learn from his mistake -- drinking little water on a hot day. He said his doctor gave him advice to follow.

"He said I should be replacing 16 ounces to 20 ounces of water an hour," Wilkins said.

Mike Riesterer explained how the dehydration triggered an irregular heart beat and eventually cardiac arrest.

"When you're dehydrated, all of those natural fluids or chemicals are leaving your system. They are going out via sweat and so on and so forth. With the absence of those, it interrupts different impulses," Riesterer said.

Rick Wilkins admits ignoring signals earlier in his round of golf that should have let him know something was wrong.

"Here I am, only 65-years-old. I'm not going to quit. I'm healthy," Wilkins said.

Doctors have implanted a defibrillator in case his heart beat gets out of whack again. He feels great but because of typical CPR injuries to the ribs and sternum, hugging hurts.

Clyde Rivard and Mike Riesterer said anyone can learn the lifesaving skill of CPR.

You can take lessons from the Red Cross, the American Heart Association, or local fire departments.

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